Tell the Truth: Deliver on Your Title’s Promise

This post is a hat-tip to Mallie Hart, Media Barista, who this month is encouraging the use of songs in blog posts to lighten and enliven content.

 

cetified trutyC’mon, tell the truth. Give it to me straight. Don’t waste my time with misleading titles and headlines, untruths and outright falsehoods.

Have you ever started to read an article or blog post only to find the content doesn’t fit at all with what the title suggests? You’re ready to learn something, only to find the information just isn’t there. What a waste of time.

Last week, I downloaded an ebook with a provocative title, promising to teach me how do do something complicated in just seven days!

 

Too Good to be True

The ebook addressed a topic I want to write about, so the “seven days” aspect sounded too good to be true – and it was. Page after page, the author skirted around the edges of the topic and not once – not once – did “seven days” appear anywhere in the 16 chapters of text. False claim. Deception. Bells going off.

I couldn’t help but wonder how many other readers had been disappointed. Often times, such false claims are perpetrated by black hat internet marketers who make their living by practicing bait and switch. My tendency is to give writers the benefit of the doubt — perhaps they aren’t paying enough attention to how their books are marketed. But these transgressions seem too obvious to be a mistake, especially when the untruths are designed into a fancy cover that blatantly hypes the false claims.

 

Eric Clapton: Tell the Truth

 

As Eric Clapton demands:
    Tell the truth. Tell me, who’s been fooling you?
    Tell the truth. Now who’s been fooling who?

Remember the Boy Who Cried Wolf? When you grab the attention of people with certain words, and your readers don’t find what they’re looking for, they’re far less likely to lend you their attention the next time your work enters their sight. Chances are, they’ll never bother to read your work again.

 

Deliver on Your Promise

I like to have fun with headlines and titles as much as the next writer, but there are guidelines for doing so. No matter how outrageous the headline, the copy in your piece must deliver on your initial claim.

A title or headline is a promise. Deliver on what you promise. It’s easier to do this if you:

  • Write your title or headline first.
  • Then create titles for your ebook chapters, or subheads for your article.
  • Next, use the title and subtitles as an structural outline for composing your piece — everything you write should relate back to your title without veering off-track.

Tell the truth. Tell me, who’s been fooling you?

I’m sure you’ve encountered title promises that don’t deliver. Please share in the comments!

How to Banish Guilt in One Easy Lesson

guilt that has nothing to do with chocolate cakeI know, the guilt is killing you, and it has nothing to do with decadent chocolate cake. Guilt weighs heavily on your shoulders and even keeps you up at night. When was the last time you published a blog post? How many writing assignments do you owe yourself?

Face it, another day has passed. True, you’ve been busy, but you still haven’t tackled the hard work you need to do to move your business forward. How can it be possible to ever catch up?

For entrepreneurs and small businesses, client deadlines often drive your time management. You land a new project with an aggressive due date, or receive emails from clients with high expectations for quick delivery of services. A number of clients may be competing for your attention. On top of that, you need to manage your business, including employees and contracted partners. Plus, if you have a small business like mine and rely on service-based work for income, detailed timekeeping is a must and invoices need to go out regularly to maintain a reliable cash flow. When do you find time to work on your business?

 

No more guilt.

I’ve started on a new program to write 1,000 words a day for 20 days, which began with a commitment to a group of like-minded professionals. One member needed to buckle down to finish a book, and many of us knew we had to address similar backlogged items to move our businesses forward – blog posts, ebooks, website material, landing pages, presentations, morning pages – so several of us took on the challenge.

My goal is to get enough of my everyday writing out of the way so that I can afford to allocate time towards something new. In addition to Sircely Marketing, which always commands my attention as my bread and butter ad agency for 25 years, I have another idea for a new initiative in a completely different direction. Even though I’m passionate about this new project, I cannot seem to find time to write the cornerstone content. (I promise to clue you in on the project as I begin to actually develop the program. Note: I said “actually develop” because now I believe I can actually make it happen.)

Writing 1,000 words a day may sound daunting, but once you sit down to write with no distractions, the word count ticks along steadily, and before you know it, you’re a third of the way there.

Each day we check in with the group and describe our progress. It’s amazing how many people all around the world in different types of businesses have similar situations. We all learn from one another and drive everyone forward. The affirmations and kind words from others are encouraging.

Yesterday I noticed that as I disgorge more and more thoughts onto the typewritten page, it’s freeing up more space for creative thinking. Who knew that would happen?!

 

The One Easy Lesson

Find your time of day and get started.

I’m a morning writer. I wake up with ideas floating around in my brain that beg to be recorded somewhere. Often, I immediately start logging notes, but I can’t just launch into writing, as I need to check my email and quickly respond to urgent messages. Usually there are just one or two, which I can quickly dispatch. Then, I’m determined not to be distracted by email or social media, at least for 60-90 minutes.

Try downloading OmmWriter, a useful writing tool with minimal functions that help you focus. To write in Pages, I’ve learned to click the Full Screen function that brings up a single blank page with no distractions (except the handy numbers below that tick off the word count). Microsoft Word has a similar function.

So far, I’m amazed at my own progress, which makes me hopeful for my new project, and for all the documents I need to create for my business and to lay the groundwork for new endeavors.

 

Are you ready to banish guilt?

Here are a few ideas to help you reach your 1,000-word per day goal:

  • Find your best time to write. You may be a morning person like me, who needs to do a brain dump before other tasks sweep me away. When my children were young, I would get up at 4 a.m. to write before they woke up. Others have better focus in late afternoon or at night. Find your most productive writing time and regularly carve out 60-90 minutes.
  • Outline tomorrow’s writing project today. At the end of your writing session, decide what comes next and jot down a few words that will get yourself rolling – if it’s a blog post for example, start with a working title and compose your main subheads.
  • If you cannot sit and write for a time, set a timer for 25 minutes. You’ll be amazed how this can help you focus. When the timer goes off, get up and take a five minute break, then set the timer again.
  • Take the advice of Daphne Gray-Grant, writing coach, who encourages writers to write, write, write with no revising. If you are dithering about word choices, or rewriting as you write, the flow of ideas will be impeded. If this is a difficult habit for you to break, she suggests putting a dishtowel over your computer screen so you cannot see what you are typing, you just concentrate on typing the ideas on a page.
  • Find a source of accountability. If you can check in and get support from a colleague or a group of like-minded individuals, it will help keep you on track.

Before you know it, you will be cranking out all kinds of material to move your business forward. I promise to let you know when my awesome new project begins!

It’s a fact that whatever we plan for our business – a new product, revised webpages, marketing initiatives, ads, presentations – all of it requires writing to facilitate the planning, development and launch of new ideas.

Do you have trouble finding time to write? Give some of these techniques a try. Write every day. Aim for 1,000 words. Once you get rolling, you’ll find you can easily surpass that goal, and you will have lots to show for your efforts.

Please leave a comment to let me know if you’re inspired to banish your guilt around writing – or not!

 

Sowing the seeds of future opportunity.

like peas, ideas sprouting up all overSome friends have asked — why a blog after 25 years? I guess I just can’t contain myself anymore. There are so many ideas I want to share—like the peas I planted last week, they are sprouting up all over and demonstrating great promise.

My marketing communications company, Sircely Marketing & Design, has operated as a traditional advertising agency and design studio for most of its 25 years. We were based in the Delaware Valley, as were most of our clients. We strategized with clients face to face. Advertising campaign presentations were made in person. Clients found us at chambers of commerce, through referrals or by admiring our pro bono work for area nonprofits.

But much has changed.

The natural evolution of the business and our outreach model through social media has expanded our client base across the nation. Now that we have relocated from the East Coast to Washington State, most client strategy sessions are now held over the phone, on Skype or via other internet platforms. Presentations are delivered via PDF. We’re no longer an offline, hyper-local communications company. All of these changes, along with repeated requests from far-flung clients, are driving my inspiration to establish an online base of useful marketing content, both to help others get a grip on their marketing, and to lead by example.

I advise clients to blog for greater visibility, credibility and for all the content it builds on their website. Few take the plunge, but the brave ones are building a valuable online presence.

There is no question that a business blog:

  • establishes your authority as the credible expert on your particular subject;
  • serves as a efficient tool to get your message out;
  • helps your business to be found online, which is where people are looking for solutions and answers to their problems;
  • cultivates relationships that have the potential to further your business in many ways.

Actually, business blogging is not a lot different than the traditional marketing tactic of making a series of contacts with a potential customer to lay the foundation for an eventual sale. Content marketing, or the sharing of information and ideas, is an effective way to establish authority on a topic while adding searchable depth to your website.

I regard this blog, Enterprising Marketing, as another opportunity to sow seeds of unforeseen opportunity. My peas soon will wind their way up a trellis, and I’m eager to share ideas that have quietly matured over two decades — the potential is thrilling, the future is wide open and the opportunities are infinite.